AI Made Friendly HERE

OODA Loop – Spatial AI is the Future of Human-Computer Interaction and the Metaverse

Regular readers of the OODA Loop know that we cover exponential technologies daily and expect disproportionate disruption when these technologies start to converge.  In this post, we explore AI + an expanded working definition (with subcategories) of what is broadly considered “the metaverse” + blockchain technology as an example of the exponential tech stack starting to converge (a subtheme of the OODA Almanac 2024).  

Sections of this Post

  1. Spatial Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  2. The Expanded Metaverse  – Categories and Subsectors
    • The Metaverse
    • The Industrial Metaverse
    • Digital Engineering
    • High-performance Computing (HPC)
    • Virtual Reality (VR)
    • Augmented reality (AR)
    • Mixed Reality (MR)
  3. Setting Levels:  Affordances in  human-computer interaction (HCI),  interaction design, and user-centered design
  4. Convergence:  AI + the Metaverse
  5. Web3
  6. Blockchain Technologies
  7. What Next?
    • AI + The Industrial Metaverse + Blockchain Technologies
    • Further OODA Loop Scenarios 
    • From the OODA Almanac 2024
      • The Exponential Tech Stack Starts to Converge
      • Computation is the Ultimate First Principle
      • Not Just New Technologies but New Realities
  8. Additional OODA Loop Resources

Spatial Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Aimed at understanding and interacting with the physical world in a highly contextualized manner, Spatial Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents a convergence of spatial computing and artificial intelligence technologies.

At its core, Spatial AI enables machines to perceive, reason, and act in our three-dimensional world. It’s a technology that’s not just about recognizing objects or navigating spaces but understanding the context and nuances of those spaces—how objects relate to each other spatially, how they change over time, and how they can be interacted with.

Autonomous vehicles, for example, rely heavily on Spatial AI to interpret their surroundings, make split-second decisions, and navigate complex environments safely. They use a combination of sensors and AI algorithms to understand the geometry of the world around them, identify obstacles, and predict the movement of pedestrians and other vehicles. This requires a sophisticated understanding of space and motion, integrating data from multiple sources in real time to make informed decisions.

In the industrial sector, Spatial AI is revolutionizing how we interact with digital twins—virtual replicas of physical systems or environments. Integrating AI allows these digital twins to simulate real-world conditions, predict outcomes, and optimize previously impossible processes.  For example, in manufacturing, Spatial AI can help optimize the layout of a factory floor to improve efficiency and safety, or in urban planning, it can assist in designing more livable and sustainable cities.

The Expanded Metaverse  – Categories and Subsectors

While the AI hype cycle even caused a pivot towards AI at the metaverse behemoth Meta,  the broad descriptor “the metaverse” has slowly started to sort itself out into market-driven subcategories and subsectors: 

…a new frontier of human interaction and connectivity.

The Metaverse, a term that has captivated the imagination of technologists, entrepreneurs, and creatives alike, represents a collective virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the internet.   The Metaverse is not merely an extension of the internet as we know it but rather an evolution.  The vision for the Metaverse is ambitious, aiming to create a seamless integration of multiple virtual environments, providing a level of interoperability that allows for the free movement of digital assets and identities across different virtual spaces.  However, the realization of the Metaverse is not without its challenges. Data privacy, security, and the digital divide pose significant hurdles. Moreover, the development of the underlying technologies, including AR, VR, and blockchain, is still ongoing, requiring further innovation and refinement to achieve the seamless, immersive experience envisioned.  Despite these challenges, the Metaverse represents a bold reimagining of online life, where the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds are not just blurred but erased, offering a new frontier of human interaction and connectivity.

The Industrial Metaverse is not just an evolution of industrial technology; it’s a reimagining of how industries operate, innovate, and create value.

The Industrial Metaverse represents a fusion of the digital and the physical tailored specifically for the industrial sector. It’s a concept that extends beyond merely adopting virtual reality or augmented reality technologies for consumer entertainment. Instead, it encapsulates a comprehensive digital transformation of industrial processes, leveraging the power of the metaverse to create interconnected, immersive environments where physical and virtual assets coexist and interact seamlessly.  At its core, the Industrial Metaverse is about harnessing the potential of advanced technologies—such as digital twins, spatial computing, and artificial intelligence—to revolutionize how we design, manufacture, and maintain products and infrastructure. It’s a vision of a future where engineers can collaborate in real-time on virtual prototypes that are exact replicas of physical objects, where factory workers can receive guidance from AI-driven avatars, and where maintenance can be predicted and performed remotely, minimizing downtime and maximizing efficiency.

This concept is not merely theoretical:

  • We’re already seeing its early manifestations in the automotive and aerospace industries, where companies use digital twins to simulate manufacturing processes and optimize production lines without needing physical prototypes.
  • Virtual power plants are being created in the energy sector to simulate and manage the flow of electricity from renewable sources across the grid, enhancing efficiency and resilience.
  • The Industrial Metaverse also promises to revolutionize workforce training and development. By creating realistic, immersive simulations, employees can be trained on complex machinery and processes in a safe, controlled environment, significantly reducing the risk of accidents and improving overall competency.
  • Opening up new avenues for collaboration and innovation, the industrial metaverse will provide a shared, interactive space that transcends geographical boundaries, it enables experts from around the world to come together to solve complex engineering challenges, share best practices, and drive forward the frontiers of technology and design.

The Industrial Metaverse is not just an evolution of industrial technology; it’s a reimagining of how industries operate, innovate, and create value. It represents a convergence of the digital and physical worlds that could redefine the landscape of global manufacturing, design, and engineering for decades.

…entirely new products and services…allowing for optimization, predictive maintenance, and innovation at a pace and scale previously unimaginable.

Digital Engineering represents a paradigm shift in conceptualizing, designing, and managing engineering projects, particularly in complex systems. It is an integrated approach that leverages digital technologies to enhance the engineering processes across the lifecycle of a system, from initial conception through design, development, operation, and decommissioning. This methodology is not merely about adopting digital tools but embodies a fundamental rethinking of the engineering discipline in the digital age.  Digital engineering involves creating and using digital twins—high-fidelity, dynamic models that mirror physical objects or systems. These digital counterparts enable engineers to simulate, analyze, and test scenarios in a virtual environment before any physical manifestation occurs.  Digital engineering embraces the principles of interoperability and collaboration, facilitated by the seamless sharing of data and models across diverse teams and disciplines. This approach breaks down traditional silos, fostering a more holistic understanding of projects and enabling a more agile to challenges and changes.  The transition to digital engineering also reflects a broader shift toward systems thinking and complexity management. As we grapple with increasingly intricate systems, the ability to model and understand the interdependencies and dynamics within these systems becomes crucial. Digital engineering provides the tools and methodologies to navigate this complexity, offering a more robust framework for decision-making and innovation.  Digital engineering is revolutionizing industries from aerospace and defense to automotive and healthcare. It promises enhanced efficiency, reduced costs, and the potential for entirely new products and services previously beyond our reach – allowing for optimization, predictive maintenance, and innovation at an unimaginable pace and scale.

The pursuit of HPC is driven by its critical importance to scientific, industrial, and defense problems.

High-performance Computing (HPC) is a domain that represents the pinnacle of our current computational capabilities, pushing the boundaries of what machines can compute at speeds that are simply staggering.  HPC involves using supercomputers and parallel processing techniques to solve complex and data-intensive problems beyond the scope of general-purpose computers. These problems span across various fields, including climate research, quantum mechanics, and the simulation of biological processes, to name a few.  The evolution of HPC is closely tied to Moore’s law and Dennard scaling, principles that have historically guided the exponential growth of computing power. However, we’ve reached a juncture where the serial performance of microprocessors has plateaued, primarily due to physical and economic limitations. The clock speeds of processors now hover around 2–6 gigahertz, with no foreseeable increase on the horizon. Instead, the focus has shifted towards parallel processing, with modern microprocessors designed as parallel processors with multiple processing cores.    This shift necessitates a profound change in how applications are developed.   The pursuit of HPC is driven by its critical importance to scientific, industrial, and defense problems. The United States’ leadership in HPC is essential for maintaining a competitive edge in these areas. However, achieving exascale computing capability by 2020 is not the sole indicator of success. Continued investment in HPC technology, both hardware and software, is imperative for sustaining this leadership. 

Virtual Reality (VR): A transformative technology that immerses users in a computer-generated environment, simulating as many senses as possible to create a convincing alternate reality. This technology leverages sophisticated hardware, such as head-mounted displays and motion-tracking devices, to make the virtual experience as immersive as possible. The essence of VR lies in its ability to transport users to realistic and fantastical worlds, offering experiences that range from the simulation of real-world environments to the creation of entirely new, imagined universes.  The power of VR extends beyond entertainment, touching upon various sectors, including education, healthcare, and engineering. 

Augmented reality (AR):  A compelling fusion of the digital and physical worlds, where computer-generated perceptual information enhances one’s perception of reality. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which immerses users entirely in a digital environment, AR overlays digital content onto the real world, augmenting and enriching how we interact with our surroundings. This technology leverages devices such as smartphones, tablets, and AR glasses to superimpose images, sounds, and text onto the physical space, creating a seamless blend of digital and physical experiences.  AR has transformative potential, impacting numerous sectors from retail and education to healthcare and industrial design.   AR’s integration into mobile devices has been significantly boosted by companies like Snapchat, Facebook, and Apple, which have developed AR tools that encourage widespread consumer use.  This democratization of AR technology has turbocharged its adoption, setting the stage for a future where AR glasses could become as ubiquitous as smartphones, further blurring the lines between digital and physical realities.

Mixed Reality (MR):  A sophisticated blend of the physical and digital worlds, creating environments where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. It’s a convergence of the immersive experiences of Virtual Reality (VR) and the augmented overlays of Augmented Reality (AR). Still, it goes beyond both by anchoring virtual objects to the real world to interact with the physical environment and the user. This interaction can be as simple as seeing a holographic projection on a desk that you can manipulate with your hands or as complex as a virtual control panel for a machine that responds to your touch and gestures as if it were real.  The essence of MR lies in its ability to seamlessly integrate the digital with the real, creating a symbiotic environment where each enhances the perception and functionality of the other. This is achieved through advanced sensors, optics, and computing power, which enable the MR device to understand the environment, track the user’s gaze and gestures, and project digital content onto the physical world in a contextually relevant manner.  One of the most compelling aspects of MR is its potential to revolutionize how we interact with data, machines, and each other.

Setting Levels:  Affordances in  human-computer interaction (HCI),  interaction design, and user-centered design

In psychology, affordance is what the environment offers the individual. In design, affordance has a narrower meaning, it refers to possible actions that an actor can readily perceive;  (1)   

   The design of tea cups and a teapot suggests their respective functions

A door knob shaped to reflect how it is used, an example of perceptible affordance

Affordance is one of several design principles used when designing graphical user interfaces

Source:  Wikipedia

A working definition of the design notion of “affordances” figures prominently in our analysis of the future convergence of AI and the metaverse:

Affordances and Signifiers in UX Design – In UX and Interaction Design, the concepts of affordances and signifiers play a pivotal role in creating interfaces that are not only visually appealing but also highly intuitive.  Affordances describe how users interpret their interaction with a design element, like a button. In UX, they signify what actions a user can perform. Think of it as an object “affording” an action. For instance, when you see a door handle, it affords grabbing to open it.

On the contrary, a wall does not afford opening because it lacks a perceivable mechanism for such an action. A push plate, however, affords a push action. Human-centered design grandfather Don Norman identified these elements in the Design of Everyday Things, later known as a “Norman Door“.

An affordance asks, “What can a person do with an object?”; “What do people need to do in order to make this work?”; “What actions can be performed?”.

None of this is deeply thought out, just as you don’t think when you open a door. Intuitive designs are about making your design “non-thinking,” or the principle captured in the title of Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. The focus is on supporting the need for users not to stop and understand.  In the image below, the button is the affordance. The arrow “signifies” the direction of “take me down to a lower floor”.

Source:  Experience Dynamics

Convergence:  AI + the Metaverse

Affordances in this new era will be characterized by an unprecedented level of immersion and interactivity.

The convergence of artificial intelligence and the expanded metaverse (the industrial metaverse, digital engineering, high-performance computing, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality) heralds a transformative era in human-machine interfaces, biometric interfaces, and graphical user interfaces.  This convergence is not merely an incremental step in technological evolution but a quantum leap that will redefine the boundaries of human experience and interaction with digital environments:  

  • Form factors will evolve significantly, driven by advances in wearable technology and miniaturization.
  • We will likely see a proliferation of devices such as lightweight, high-resolution VR headsets, AR glasses that overlay digital information onto the physical world, and haptic suits that provide tactile feedback, simulating physical sensations within virtual environments.
  • These devices will become more ergonomic, blending naturally with the user’s body and daily life, reducing barriers to immersive experiences. 
  • Human-machine interfaces (HMIs) will become more intuitive and integrated, moving beyond traditional input methods like keyboards and mice to incorporate natural language processing, gesture recognition, and even direct neural interfaces.
  • This shift will enable users to interact with digital environments in ways that mirror natural human behaviors and thought processes, making the technology more accessible and engaging. 
  • Biometric interfaces will be crucial in personalizing and securing interactions within these digital realms. Advanced biometrics, including facial recognition, iris scans, and even brainwave patterns, will protect users’ identities while enabling a previously unseen personalization level. These technologies will also facilitate new forms of social interaction and collaboration within the metaverse, ensuring that users can confidently engage in their digital identities.  
  • Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) will transform from flat, two-dimensional displays to fully three-dimensional, interactive environments.
  • Users will easily navigate and manipulate digital spaces using gestures, voice commands, or thoughts.
  • The GUIs of the future will be dynamic and context-sensitive, adapting to users’ needs and preferences in real time, thereby enhancing the usability and accessibility of complex digital systems. 


Web3 represents a paradigm shift towards a decentralized and blockchain-based internet. This new iteration of the web aims to address some of the fundamental issues with Web 2.0, particularly around data sovereignty, privacy, and the monopolistic control exerted by large tech corporations. At its core, Web3 is about returning power to the users, enabling them to own and control their data and interact in a digital environment without intermediaries.  The foundational technology of Web3 is blockchain, which facilitates the creation of decentralized applications (dApps) that run on a peer-to-peer network rather than being hosted on centralized servers. This architecture enhances security and resistance to censorship. It introduces a new economic model where users can directly benefit from participation and contributions through tokens and digital assets.  

Web3 encompasses a broader vision of a decentralized internet, including decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) that offer a new model for organizational governance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that redefine ownership and value in the digital realm. mWeb3 will touch upon every aspect of our digital lives:  It promises a future where digital interactions are more secure, transparent, and equitable, with users having greater control over their digital identities and assets.

Blockchain Technologies

Blockchain technologies are poised to play a pivotal and transformative role in the grand tapestry of technological convergence, including artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and immersive technologies such as the metaverse and augmented reality. The essence of blockchain, with its decentralized, secure, and transparent nature, offers a foundational layer that can significantly enhance the integrity, efficiency, and trustworthiness of these converging technologies: 

Consider the role of blockchain in enhancing security and trust:  In a world increasingly reliant on digital interactions, the immutable ledger that blockchain provides can serve as a bedrock for trust. For instance, blockchain can offer a secure and unforgeable repository of identity information in digital identity management, mitigating identity theft and fraud risks.  This is particularly relevant in virtual environments, where verifying the authenticity of digital assets and interactions becomes paramount.

Blockchain’s potential to facilitate secure and transparent transactions without the need for intermediaries aligns perfectly with the ethos of decentralized digital worlds:  In the context of the metaverse, for example, blockchain can enable the creation, ownership, and exchange of digital assets—ranging from virtual real estate to in-game items—with verifiable provenance and ownership.  This enhances the user experience by providing security and trust and opens up new economic paradigms within these digital spaces.

The integration of blockchain with artificial intelligence and next-generation computation also heralds new possibilities for autonomous, intelligent systems that operate with a high degree of trust and transparency:  Smart contracts, self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code, can automate complex processes and transactions in a transparent, conflict-free manner.  When combined with AI, these smart contracts can evolve into more sophisticated autonomous agents that make decisions, execute transactions, and interact with humans and other machines in a secure and trustworthy manner. 

Blockchain’s role in facilitating decentralized storage solutions presents an opportunity to address scalability and data sovereignty issues inherent in next-generation computation and the industrial metaverse.  By distributing data across a network, blockchain can offer a more resilient and censorship-resistant storage solution, ensuring that data remains accessible and secure, even in the face of outages or malicious attacks.

What Next?

AI + The Industrial Metaverse + Blockchain Technologies

Blockchain technologies are not merely an adjunct to the convergence of AI, high-performance computing, and immersive technologies; they are a critical enabler that will underpin the security, trust, and economic models of these future digital landscapes:  The convergence of Web3, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Industrial Metaverse is a fusion that heralds a new epoch of digital innovation and industrial transformation. This triad of technological advancements is poised to redefine the paradigms of interaction, operation, and creation within the digital and physical realms, ushering in unprecedented levels of efficiency, autonomy, and innovation.

Web3, with its decentralized ethos, provides the foundational layer for this convergence, offering a secure, transparent, and user-empowered framework that challenges the centralized models of data ownership and control that have dominated the digital landscape:  It is the bedrock upon which the other two technologies can build and interact, ensuring that the data and transactions within the Industrial Metaverse are immutable, verifiable, and without the need for intermediaries. This decentralization is crucial for creating a trustless environment where machines, systems, and humans can interact with high confidence in the integrity of the data and transactions.

Artificial Intelligence, however, injects intelligence and adaptability into this convergence. AI’s role is two-fold; it enables the analysis and interpretation of vast amounts of data generated within the Industrial Metaverse and facilitates autonomous decision-making, predictive maintenance, and personalized experiences.  Integrating AI with Web3 technologies like smart contracts allows for creating self-executing contracts that can automate various industrial processes based on AI-driven insights, further enhancing efficiency and reducing human error.

The Industrial Metaverse, with its immersive and interconnected digital twins of physical assets and environments, offers a canvas for the application of Web3 and AI:  It enables the visualization and simulation of industrial processes in a virtual space, allowing for optimization and experimentation without the constraints of the physical world. Digital twins, powered by AI algorithms, can predict failures, optimize performance, and facilitate innovation in product design and manufacturing processes. Furthermore, the Industrial Metaverse, underpinned by Web3, ensures that these digital twins and their interactions are secure, transparent, and interoperable across different platforms and industries.

The convergence of these technologies also promises to revolutionize workforce training and development:  By leveraging the immersive environments of the Industrial Metaverse, enhanced with AI-driven simulations and powered by the secure, decentralized infrastructure of Web3, industries can create realistic training scenarios that are both effective and scalable. This reduces the risk of accidents and enables a more agile and skilled workforce capable of navigating the complexities of modern industrial environments.

The convergence of HPC with emerging technologies like Web3, Artificial Intelligence, and the Industrial Metaverse opens new vistas for innovation:  When integrated with HPC, these technologies could significantly enhance our ability to analyze data, simulate complex systems, and solve problems that were previously deemed intractable.

Further OODA Loop Scenarios 

The convergence of Web3, AI, and the Industrial Metaverse is a testament to the synergistic potential of these technologies. It represents a leap towards a future where industries are more efficient, sustainable, innovative, and resilient. – touching upon every aspect of creating, operating, and interacting within the industrial domain.

We stand on the precipice of a transformative era that will redefine human experience, interaction, and societal structures. The integration of these technologies represents a seamless continuum of experiences that enrich human life in unprecedented ways.  The potential applications of Spatial AI extend into fields such as robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and beyond:

  • In robotics, Spatial AI enables robots to understand and navigate their environment, manipulate objects, and perform complex tasks with high autonomy.
  • AR and VR allow for more immersive and interactive experiences by accurately mapping virtual content to the physical world. 
  • Consider advanced manufacturing, where Spatial AI integrates with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to revolutionize production processes. A compelling example can be found in the aerospace sector, where companies like Boeing have implemented Spatial AI to enhance the assembly of complex aircraft components. Using AI-driven robots with spatial awareness, these systems can navigate the manufacturing environment, identifying parts and autonomously performing precision tasks such as drilling and riveting. This accelerates the assembly process and significantly reduces the margin for error, ensuring that each component meets stringent quality standards.
  • Consider the energy sector, specifically in the maintenance and operation of offshore oil rigs. Here, the convergence of Spatial AI and the Industrial Internet has led to the development of autonomous drones capable of inspecting and monitoring the structural integrity of these complex facilities. Equipped with advanced sensors and AI algorithms, these drones can navigate the challenging offshore environment, identifying potential issues such as corrosion or structural weaknesses. By analyzing this data in real-time and integrating it with broader IIoT systems, operators can prioritize maintenance activities, prevent unplanned shutdowns, and enhance the overall safety of the operation. This application of Spatial AI not only improves operational efficiency but also plays a crucial role in safeguarding the environment and the well-being of workers.

Spatial AI promises smarter, more intuitive technology that can meaningfully interact with the physical world.  It’s a step towards a future where technology understands our world as we do, making our interactions with machines more natural and intuitive. 

Envisioning additional future scenarios in the context of the convergence of artificial intelligence, the expanded categories of the metaverse and blockchain:  

  • One can anticipate a future where artificial intelligence and next-generation computation have advanced to a point where they are indistinguishable from human intelligence in many respects. This will augment human capabilities and create new forms of intelligence that can autonomously solve complex problems, innovate, and even create art. The implications for every sector of society—education, healthcare, entertainment, and manufacturing—are profound. Imagine a world where personalized learning algorithms adapt to each student’s learning style, pace, and interests, revolutionizing education, or where AI-driven healthcare provides personalized treatments and predicts potential health issues before they arise.
  • The industrial metaverse and digital engineering will revolutionize the way we design, build, and maintain everything from consumer products to entire cities. Engineers and designers will collaborate in virtual spaces that simulate the real world with high fidelity, allowing for rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration of designs without the constraints of physical materials. This could lead to a surge in innovation and efficiency, reducing the time and cost of bringing new products and infrastructure to market.
  • Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality will transform human interaction, entertainment, and work. These technologies will enable immersive experiences that are currently the domain of science fiction—virtual travel, live concerts where you can feel the crowd’s energy from your living room, or collaborative work environments where remote teams can work together as if they were in the same physical space. The potential for creating deeply engaging educational experiences that make learning more effective and enjoyable is particularly exciting.

The convergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High-Performance Computing (HPC) is not merely a linear progression but a quantum leap that amplifies the strengths of each domain to address complex challenges and unlock new possibilities: 

  • One of the most compelling scenarios emerging from this convergence is climate modeling and environmental research:  The sheer complexity of Earth’s climate systems, with their myriad interacting components and variables, has long posed a formidable challenge to scientists. Traditional computational models, while powerful, often struggle to capture the full spectrum of these interactions at the necessary scale and detail. However, by leveraging the immense computational power of HPC to process vast datasets and the nuanced pattern recognition capabilities of AI, researchers can develop more accurate and predictive models of climate change. This could lead to breakthroughs in understanding the impacts of global warming, enabling policymakers to devise more effective strategies for mitigation and adaptation.
  • In genomics and personalized medicine, the convergence of AI and HPC is also making waves. Decoding the human genome was a monumental scientific achievement, but it was just the beginning. The real challenge lies in understanding how our DNA’s billions of base pairs influence health, disease, and individual responses to treatments. AI algorithms, powered by the brute force of HPC, can sift through this colossal genetic data, identifying patterns and correlations that elude human analysts. This convergence could accelerate the development of personalized medicine, where treatments and preventive measures are tailored to the individual’s genetic makeup, vastly improving outcomes and reducing side effects.
  • Another scenario unfolds in cybersecurity, where the sophistication and volume of threats are escalating at an alarming rate. Traditional security measures are increasingly inadequate against these evolving threats. However, integrating AI’s dynamic learning and predictive capabilities with HPC’s ability to process and analyze data at scale offers a potent defense mechanism. This combination can identify and neutralize novel threats in real-time, adapt to new attack vectors, and even predict and prevent attacks before they occur, safeguarding critical infrastructure and sensitive data against tomorrow’s cyber threats.
  • These scenarios underscore the transformative potential of the convergence between AI and HPC, a synergy that will reshape industries, advance scientific knowledge, and enhance our ability to tackle some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. The implications for innovation, efficiency, and problem-solving point to a future where the boundaries of what’s possible are continually expanded. 

The following scenarios illustrate the transformative potential of the convergence between AI and digital engineering – a future where the intelligence and adaptability of AI transcend the limitations of traditional engineering: 

  • In the realm of infrastructure and urban planning, integrating AI with digital engineering tools enables the creation of smart cities. These urban environments leverage AI to optimize traffic flow, energy consumption, and waste management, leading to more sustainable and efficient living spaces:  For instance, AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data from sensors and IoT devices to predict traffic congestion and dynamically adjust traffic signals to alleviate bottlenecks. Similarly, energy consumption in buildings can be optimized in real-time, reducing carbon footprints and operational costs.
  • Another compelling scenario is in the aerospace and defense sectors, where the convergence of AI and digital engineering is revolutionizing design and manufacturing processes: Through digital twin technology, engineers can create and test virtual models of aircraft, satellites, or defense systems, simulating a wide range of conditions to optimize designs before physical prototypes are built. AI enhances this process by predicting potential failures and suggesting design modifications, significantly reducing development time and costs while improving safety and performance.  
  • In healthcare, the fusion of AI and digital engineering is paving the way for personalized medicine and advanced diagnostic tools:  AI algorithms, trained on vast genetic information and patient records datasets, can identify patterns and predict health outcomes with remarkable accuracy. When combined with digital engineering, such as 3D printing, customized implants and prosthetic devices can be designed and manufactured to match the unique anatomical features of individual patients, improving comfort and functionality.
  • The automotive industry is also witnessing a profound impact from the convergence of AI and digital engineering, particularly in the development of autonomous vehicles:  AI systems process data from cameras, radar, and lidar to navigate and make decisions in real-time, while digital engineering tools are used to design vehicles that can accommodate the complex hardware and software requirements of autonomous systems. This convergence is not only making self-driving cars a reality but is also leading to innovations in vehicle safety, efficiency, and design.

These advancements also pose significant challenges, including privacy concerns, the potential for deepening social divides, and the ethical implications of creating sentient AI.  However, the convergence of these technologies also promises to unlock new dimensions of human creativity, collaboration, and interaction, shaping an exhilarating and daunting future.

How do you envision these future scenarios impacting your organization?  

From the OODA Almanac 2024

The Exponential Tech Stack Starts to Converge

Regular readers of the OODA Loop know that we cover exponential technologies daily and expect disproportionate disruption when these technologies start to converge.  For example, AI + Bio-Tech or Robotics + AI.  We will be tracking and continue re-orienting you to developments in the following areas:

  • Quantum Tech is the ultimate in first-principles engineering. With new insights into the quantum world, it is becoming a foundational science for all other engineering disciplines. Quantum Computing may be a decade away, but quantum engineering is a reality today, resulting in more powerful microelectronics, more capable sensors, and improved cybersecurity solutions. 
  • Bio-Tech: Until today, all biological science was based on observation and experimentation. New BioTech enables the application of engineering principles to life itself. In 2024, we expect Biotech to continue improving health and pharmaceutical outcomes and to start disrupting fields such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and energy. Watch for mainstreaming of Brain Machine Interfaces towards the end of the year. 
  • Narrow AI: Next year, more sophisticated narrow AI applications like OpenAI’s ChatGPT will be introduced into healthcare diagnostics, marketing, and customer service. Employee disruption is already well underway. Companies, governments, and individuals will adopt or not (“Adopt or you’re toast”). 
  • General AI: General AI is a term used to describe sophisticated technology that can solve problems across multiple domains like a human. We do not believe reaching a General AI is a simple binary event. We will more likely see continued improvement in multiple AI tools in 2024. Prepare to be amazed.
  • Advanced Robotics and Automation: The most advanced robots give AI physical form. In 2024, we expect to see humanoid robots in manufacturing and warehousing. In 2025, some of your neighbors will have them in their homes. Autonomous vehicles and drones are poised to disrupt transportation and logistics. 
  • Materials Science: Innovations in materials science, particularly in additive manufacturing and 3D printing, will lead to more sustainable and efficient manufacturing processes across multiple industries in 2024. The cost of capital to modernize industries is inflationary, but the ability to manufacture in new ways with automation is a long-term deflationary trend.
  • AR, VR, and the Metaverse: Augmented and virtual reality technologies are becoming more immersive, making the metaverse a more integral part of entertainment, education, and remote work. The Apple Vision Pro is the latest in a long evolution of these technologies. 
  • Space Technologies: In the coming year, we will witness new milestones in space technology, opening new avenues for pharmaceutical production, earth observation, telecommunications, and human space travel.
  • Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies: OODA has been tracking this domain closely and sees the foundations being laid for new applications across multiple aspects of society. Solutions will accelerate in finance, healthcare, security, supply chain management, and voting systems. One measure of potential disruption in this domain is the number of developers creating blockchain-based solutions. There were 22,000 blockchain developers in the US in 2022. By the end of 2024, we expect that number to double. 

Computation is the Ultimate First Principle

If there were to be one guiding first principle over the next 5 years, it would emphasize the role that computation plays across everything we are and will be the underpinning over everything we do.  In engineering, computation serves as the bedrock upon which tangible and conceptual structures are built; it is the mechanism by which we translate the laws of physics into the marvels of modern infrastructure. Within finance, computation is the pulse that courses through the veins of markets, embodying the algorithms that drive trading strategies and the quantitative models that shape economic forecasting as for nature, computation can be seen in the intricate dance of evolutionary processes, the patterns of genetic code, and the emergent complexity of ecosystems—a testament to the universal language of mathematics that governs all. 

Through this lens, computation emerges not merely as a tool but as a fundamental principle that underpins the complexity and beauty of the world we navigate. It is a thread that weaves together the fabric of human ingenuity with the tapestry of the cosmos.  Comprehending the world through a lens of computation will be the ultimate re-orientation.

Not Just New Technologies but New Realities

William Gibson transcended the future, whereas Philip K. Dick transcended reality.  The future of the next ten years will be more closely aligned with Dick than Gibson. Gibson’s prescient visions of cyberpunk landscapes and the matrix have certainly shaped our understanding of a digital future. His narratives often hinge on the interplay between humanity and technology, forecasting a world where the two become inextricably linked. In contrast, Philip K. Dick’s work delves into the nature of reality itself, questioning the very fabric of existence and the human experience. His stories grapple with themes of identity, consciousness, and the nature of truth—increasingly relevant concepts in an era of deepfakes, misinformation, and the erosion of shared objective realities.

As we look to the next decade, it seems plausible that the themes explored by Dick will resonate more deeply with our societal trajectory. The rapid advancement of technology has brought us to a point where the manipulation of reality—be it through augmented reality, virtual reality, or artificial intelligence—is not just possible but becoming commonplace. The blurring lines between what is real and what is synthetic challenge our perceptions and could lead to a future that feels more akin to the surreal and often dystopian worlds depicted by Dick.

This is not to say that Gibson’s influence will diminish; on the contrary, his insights into the interconnectivity of global systems and the cybernetic enhancements of the human condition continue to unfold around us. However, the philosophical quandaries that Dick presents—such as the nature of humanity in an increasingly artificial world—may prove to be more immediately pertinent as we confront the ethical and existential implications of our technological evolution.

Reflecting on the current state of the world, it is evident that the questions raised by Dick’s work are not just philosophical musings but pressing concerns. The struggle to discern truth from fabrication, to maintain a sense of self amidst a barrage of algorithmically curated content, and to find meaning in a world where traditional narratives are constantly being upended, are challenges we grapple with daily. In this sense, Dick’s transcendence of reality may indeed be the guiding theme for the next ten years.  We might engage in bar arguments of the reorientation required in the world imagined by Gibson. Still, we will fight wars over the reorientation necessary to inhabit the landscape envisioned by Dick.

NOTE:  This OODA Loop Original Analysis was partially generated with the cognitive augmentation of and in collaboration with ALTzero Project – MattGPT.

Additional OODA Loop Resources

Exponential Technology Stack Convergence: Generative AI-enabled Blockchain Networks: Throughout 2024, we expect disproportionate disruption when the exponential tech stack starts to converge. One of the most promising of these exponential technological intersections will be Generative AI-enabled Blockchain Networks – of which applications and use cases have started to emerge.

Rise of the Metaverse: The immersive digital universe, is expected to reshape internet interactions, education, social networking, and entertainment. See Future of the Metaverse.

Technology Convergence and Market Disruption: Rapid technological advancements are changing market dynamics and user expectations. See Disruptive and Exponential Technologies.

The New Tech Trinity: Artificial Intelligence, BioTech, Quantum Tech: Will make monumental shifts in the world. This new Tech Trinity will redefine our economy, both threaten and fortify our national security, and revolutionize our intelligence community. None of us are ready for this. This convergence requires a deepened commitment to foresight and preparation and planning on a level that is not occurring anywhere. The New Tech Trinity.

The Revolution in Biology: This post provides an overview of key thrusts of the transformation underway in biology and offers seven topics business leaders should consider when updating business strategy to optimize opportunity because of these changes. For more, see:  The Executive’s Guide To The Revolution in Biology

AI Discipline Interdependence: There are concerns about uncontrolled AI growth, with many experts calling for robust AI governance. Both positive and negative impacts of AI need assessment. See: Using AI for Competitive Advantage in Business.

Benefits of Automation and New Technology: Automation, AI, robotics, and Robotic Process Automation are improving business efficiency. New sensors, especially quantum ones, are revolutionizing healthcare and national security. Advanced WiFi, cellular, and space-based communication technologies enhance distributed work capabilities. See: Advanced Automation and New Technologies

Materials Science Revolution: Room-temperature ambient pressure superconductors represent a significant innovation. Sustainability gets a boost with reprocessable materials. Energy storage sees innovations in solid-state batteries and advanced supercapacitors. Smart textiles pave the way for health-monitoring and self-healing fabrics. 3D printing materials promise disruptions in various sectors. Perovskites offer versatile applications, from solar power to quantum computing. See: Materials Science

Originally Appeared Here

You May Also Like

About the Author:

Early Bird